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Annals Of PR: HubSpot Buys Oneforty, Says ‘Tweet This’

August 18, 2011
Wall Street Journal
by Zoran Basich

We get a lot of press releases here at Venture Capital Dispatch, some better than others but nearly all of them following a pretty bland, straightforward formula.

So when a company or a P.R. firm subverts the dominant paradigm, we try to give credit where due (like we did with a quirky press release put out by SonicMule last year). Think of it as our selfish attempt to encourage a little creativity in a usually humdrum format (and help us avoid that glazed-eyes thing that starts to happen around 3 p.m.)

Kudos, then, to HubSpot Inc. The social media marketing and analytics company announced Thursday it had acquired oneforty Inc., which provides complementary inbound marketing services build around social media content. What made the press announcement different was that it was in the form of a series of about a dozen tweets, complete with handles, hashtags and “tweet this” buttons.

“As we started to put together our message for this release we thought, ‘How do we make this stand out?’” said Kara Sassone, a media relations rep for HubSpot. “We also wanted to incorporate oneforty in an obvious way — and what’s better than tweetable (140 character) messages?”

Did it work? In the first couple of hours after the release came out, it had been retweeted or mentioned more than 400 times.

While most of the response was positive, not everyone thought a list of sentences visually broken up with extraneous symbols and buttons was the most effective way to get the information across.

“Most annoying press release format ever,” one person tweeted. “Would love a regular PR with a list of tweetables instead.”

We kind of see the point. After all, maybe the following sentence – ”Having @oneforty join our team and working with them on transforming marketing is exciting, said @bhalligan. #Hub140″ — should properly be buried in the middle of a press release, instead of larded with bells and whistles and made tweet-ready. After all, who would possibly want to re-tweet a CEO saying a new acquisition was “exciting”?

Nonetheless, we don’t mean to be ungrateful. It’s an admirable attempt, especially given that the company being acquired is called oneforty and is focused on Twitter-based marketing. The last thing we want to do is encourage a retreat into mind-numbing press releases.

Annals Of PR: HubSpot Buys Oneforty, Says ‘Tweet This’

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